Data analytics team presents work at Salesforce conference

By Meredith Sell Published: Dec 14, 2016

The data analytics team at Dreamforce

In October, four Taylor students and their team mentor presented original data analytics work in San Francisco at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference.

Made up of three business students and one mathematics-interdisciplinary student, the data analytics team was formed on a trial run basis early last spring by Nathan Baker ’13, Director of Analytics, and Dr. Jody Hirschy, Chair of the Business Department. Students joined on a volunteer basis and gained experience in Salesforce Wave Analytics, working with real data used by the University to make significant decisions.

“This is part of ongoing strategy to provide additional experiential learning opportunities,” Hirschy said, “and that’s something unique that we can do at Taylor because of our size and because of who we are.”

Baker provided the students with training in the Salesforce tool and guided the team through data terminology.

Over the spring semester, the team familiarized themselves with the available data and, after splitting into groups of two, honed in on a particular data set to explore relevant questions. At the end of the semester, they presented their findings and the dashboards they created using Wave to University stakeholders from a variety of departments.

“Within three months, these students went from knowing nothing to being able to use Salesforce Wave Analytics as an analyzer of data,” Baker said.

The students were invited to give a Dreamforce presentation, as well as a Salesforce webinar, after Baker shared some of their work with a Salesforce representative. Friends of the University provided funds to cover travel expenses to and from San Francisco.

This spring, the data analytics team is being formalized in the Business Department as an academic, for-credit class to which students apply in order to participate.

“There is no curriculum established for undergraduate institutions—or any institution—to teach Wave Analytics, so we’re kind of charting the waters,” Baker said.